Theme Questions Was Stalin a hero or a villain? Reformer or terrorist? To what extent was the Russian Revolution radical or successful? – Got rid of absolute monarch, but installed a dictator – Introduction of new economic plans (which failed for the most part) What marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union? – Prague Spring 1968 – Gorbachev‘s liberal policies – Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989 To what extent was the Cold War a cold war?
Lessons Learned Impossibility of human equality – first thoughts of absolute human equality → realization of its impossibility – Communism classified as simply an unreachable ideology Increasing size of empire = decreasing stability of empire – The more cultures are being governed by one government, the harder it is to please all and the probability of revolution grows – Especially seen in Soviet Union
Connections Terror as a means to maintain power (Stalin, Hitler, Robespierre) Power through unifying regions (Soviet Union, League of Nations, Delian League) Separation of Church and State continues to spread (begins in enlightenment and reaches Russia in 1918) Elimination of old to start new (Execution of Louis XVI in FR, and Tzar Nicholas II in RR. Cultural Revolution in China) Scorched Earth Policy (France vs Russia in Napoleonic Wars and Germany vs Russia in WWII) Thrill of new frontiers (Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, Space Race, United States)
Theme Questions Did America react so radically to the emerging communist regimes and its developments in atomic energy out of fear of losing a war? – The USA was used to winning in combat What characterizes disloyalty? Distinction between Communist Party member and disloyal sabotager Red Scare, McCarthyism H.U.A.C. etc. in contrast to the freedom of speech? Was the anti-communism approach justified or overly reactionary? – Truthfulness of „domino theory“
Lessons Learned Capitalism supports ingenuity and progress – Although it remains unfair Exploitation needed to begin system of capitalism – Land of the Native Americans stolen Ignazio Silone's Bread and Wine, a character says: "The government has two arms of varying length. The long one is for taking—it reaches everywhere. The short one is for giving—it reaches only to those nearest." Individualism is key!
Connections Fear of terrorists – Enemy is unknown now Soviet Union and Russia still opposed Containment – Limit the spread of communism, containment in regards to the demographic expansion in the USA (through tests and checking passports e.g. Alabama) Individualism and egotism leads to squalor and necessitates civil society to keep the wretchedness under control: a cycle
Connections Rivalry and fear of losing power – Sparta vs. Athens – Rome vs. Carthage – Great Britain vs. Germany vs. France
Theme Questions To what extent is a dictatorship possible on a long-term basis? From democratic despotism to tyrannical totalitarianism... Hitler‘s rise to power – preventable or utterly inevitable? What were its primary causes? – Brecht: Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui Why was Hitler and the NSDAP that successful at effectively using propaganda? Naiveté en masse? If the Russian Revolution of 1917 would not have taken place, would Hitler have been able to rise to power this easily? (If-grandpa-had-boobs-we‘d-call-him- grandma-question)
Theme Questions After the demise of communism, why did ex- communist states turn to liberalism? – Return to enlightened ideas combined with modern politics Were the “revolutions” of 1989 inevitable or could they have been avoided? Could the GDR have survived the post-communist era without the need to unify with the West? Does the fall of the Berlin Wall (Revolutions in 1989) represent the beginning, the end, or the transition of a socio-political movement? Were they literally revolutions?
Lessons Learned From totalitarianism to political moralism (what decisions are just to human rights, etc.?) – Extremism → Moderate politics (fear of the radicals) In times of socio-economic despair, a people tends to drift to the fringes of parliament – Leaders use this economic misery to justify their radical, undemocratic policies Believe actions, not words. (Propaganda, rhetoric talent, appearance) – Ex. “Arbeit macht frei” – Do not trust utopian visions Cynicism in propaganda to mass-mobilize
Lessons Learned The “Machine” - mechanism for control – Cult of personality - image of the superhuman (Hitler, Stalin) – Truth vs. truth - distortion of truth, unclear reality, pretension (ex. Hundred Flowers Campaign) – Secret Police - decisive facet of totalitarian regimes, intervention in socio-cultural issues (ex. Gestapo, KGB, Stasi) – Use of media - mass mobilization with the help of modern technology #spreadtheword
Lessons Learned How do totalitarian dictators rise? – Masses, political radicals (criminals), machines and control mechanisms, ideological master plans Dangerous mélange of politics and romanticism – Do not combine your personal sentiments with your state policies (Hitler → personal problem with Jewry) Rise of isms (to find shelter, to find comfort, categorization) – Marxism, Nazism, Socialism, Communism, Imperialism, Capitalism – Berlin: an ideological and military battlefield
Lessons Learned Innovation can be counterproductive – Aerial bombing, atom bomb, poison gas, targeting of civilians Redefinition of terrorism – Assassinations and massacres with radical prospect “Alles oder nichts” (Everything or nothing) - ex. Final Solution, Total War, Total Revolution, Total Mobilization, genocides (Armenia 1915, Jews) The pendulum swings ruthlessly – Germany: Rise of Nazism (1933), Rise of Soviet Communism in the East (1945), movement toward socialism and later moderate politics – Two entities opposing each other (Untermenschen vs. Übermenschen, Nazis vs. Sozis, Caps vs. Commies) – Self-definition by what one is not
Connections (#throwback) French Revolution - consideration of mass politics, utopian socialism – Theory of Social Reorganization by Charles Fourier Industrial Revolution - economic confidence, progress in engineering; set the basis for a technocratic structure Dictator Trap (Julius Caesar ←→ Adolf Hitler) – Romantic visions, charisma, rhetoric talent Revolution (literal meaning) in times of despair (American Revolution, French Revolution,...)
Connections (#tbf) Juxtaposition of Hitler and Bismarck – “Bismarck was a rationalist, Hitler a romantic nihilist” - Henry Kissinger – Bismarck had limits, Hitler had no restraints – Bismarck influenced contemporary politics, Hitler left a vacuum Eugenics in Japan (19 th and 20 th century) – Racial purity; Rassenschande Semitic Genocide – Armenian Genocide 1915 Gleichschaltung – Sparta – all aspects of life should be brought into line to one specific goal military and imperial might
Connections (#tbf) Oswald Spengler (“Der Untergang des Abendlandes”, 1922): “The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them. Life will descend to a level of general uniformity, a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it...” – Naive to compare Julius Caesar with Adolf Hitler – Adolf Hitler sought a return to a certain “primitivism”, but abused and misinterpreted to an extent that he massacred and segregated people from society – Hitler: not a Caesar, not a strong man – A man with many weaknesses, who let out his frustration and utter rage at millions of innocents and had a perverse vision of a racially pure society
Conclusion 20 th century – Melting pot of all lessons learned Century formed of experimental politics – From moderate democracy to totalitarianism Utopian visions ended in senseless violence Formation of political religions Fanaticism, commitment, and sacrifice in return for an ultimate reward in this life rather than the next Gangsters and machines – awful combination Exposes the attitude toward human nature Can we learn from our lessons? 20 th century cursed from the totalitarianism but blessed from their resistors Future of terror – Al-Qaida and the Taliban?